Derek Kellenberg, Arik Levinson, 01 March 2014

Economic theory predicts that international environmental agreements will fail due to free-rider problems, and previous empirical work suggests that such agreements do not in fact reduce emissions. This column presents evidence that the Basel Convention and Ban on trade in hazardous waste has also been ineffective. The authors find no evidence that Annex-7 countries that ratified the Ban slowed their exports to non-Annex-7 countries as the agreement requires.

Jeffrey Frankel, 27 February 2014

Market-based mechanisms such as cap-and-trade can tackle externality problems more efficiently than command-and-control regulations. However, politicians in the US and Europe have retreated from cap-and-trade in recent years. This column draws a parallel between Republicans’ abandonment of market-based environmental regulation and their recent disavowal of mandatory health insurance. The author argues that in practice, the alternative to market-based regulation is not an absence of regulation, but rather the return of inefficient mandates and subsidies.

Enrica De Cian, Samuel Carrara, Massimo Tavoni, 22 December 2013

After the Fukushima incident in 2011, many countries decided to shrink their nuclear power programmes. This article presents recent research on the optimal role of nuclear power in reducing carbon emissions. Phasing out nuclear power would be costly, since it is currently the cheapest low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels. However, these costs would be largely offset by the implicit subsidy to R&D in renewables, which suffers from innovation externalities. Still, carbon pricing and explicit R&D subsidies would be a more efficient way of determining the future of nuclear power.

Jean-Marie Grether, Nicole Mathys, Jaime de Melo, 23 December 2010

Environmentalists have long feared that globalisation will harm the environment by allowing heavily polluting industries to migrate to countries with lax environmental standards. This column presents new evidence from several industries across many countries for all the major pollutants. It suggests that lax policy has only had a small effect on the pollution content of trade.

David Anthoff, Richard Tol, 29 November 2010

An international agreement on tackling climate change is still a long way off. One barrier often cited is that sovereign states will fail to cooperate and among the challenges is how countries would measure the impact of climate change on others. This column presents new insights in this area.

Hans-Werner Sinn, 17 September 2010

No one likes sitting in a traffic jam, but what can be done about them? This column says the time has come for general road tolls on all roads across all of Europe.

Matthew Kahn, 11 September 2010

Most scientists agree that climate change is underway or at least on the horizon. This column introduces the author's book 'Climatopolis: How Our Cities will Thrive in Our Hotter Future.' It outlines an optimism and an irony: Urban economic growth may have caused climate change, but through the free market, it will also help us to adapt to it.

Gareth Edwards-Jones, Paul Brenton, Michael F Jensen, 05 September 2010

Is offsetting your carbon footprint always a good thing? This column questions the criteria used to label carbon footprints, arguing they can disadvantage developing countries. It suggests a variety of ways to overcome that problem.

Simon Dietz, Antony Millner, Geoffrey Heal, 01 September 2010

The answers to “How much should people sacrifice today for the benefit of those living several decades from now?” vary widely. This column suggests that people’s distaste for uncertainty – ambiguity aversion – favours immediate, rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Ataman Aksoy, Francis Ng, 30 July 2010

This column sketches the changing face of global agricultural trade over the last 20 years. It finds that developing countries have not been able to increase their export shares in agriculture in line with their manufacture shares. What little increase there has been is largely the result of expanding exports to other developing countries.

Nicholas Bloom, Ralf Martin, 16 May 2010

Policies to improve management practices – such as competitive markets, business training and professional, rather than hereditary family, management – improve productivity and economic growth. Could this be at the cost of higher energy usage? This column, using extensive survey and experimental data, suggests that, quite to the contrary, well-managed firms are substantially more energy-efficient.

Gilbert Metcalf, 27 June 2009

Nearly all economists agree that the most efficient way to address environmental problems is to raise the cost of the pollution-generating activity, but US policies subsidise clean-energy alternatives instead. This column criticizes that approach – subsidies lower the cost of energy, play favourites with technologies, are often inframarginal, and frequently interact in unexpected ways with other policies.

Judith Dean , Mary Lovely, 14 May 2008

Chinese trade and pollution have exploded over the last decade. But new evidence shows that trade isn’t to blame for the pollution. In fact, Chinese imports and exports are becoming cleaner over time.

Marc Ivaldi, 23 October 2007

Trains use three times less energy than cars to transport people; six times less energy than trucks to move freight. Trains use and emit just one-fifth the amount of carbon dioxide. Governments can help fight global warming by using competition policy and tax incentives to induce transportation customers to switch to rail.

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